Natural shoreline vegetation plays an important role in maintaining water quality; therefore, by removing vegetation and altering your waterfront landscape, you can directly impact the water quality of your lake.
Natural vegetation along a shoreline will protect against soil erosion, filter pollutants from runoff water, trap excess nutrients, provide aquatic and terrestrial habitat for plants and animals, and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. It will also cost you less to build and maintain.
A riparian buffer zone of trees, shrubs and grasses will filter sediments, fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants that reduce water quality and destroy fish habitat. The buffer zone will also prevent erosion at the water's edge and improve fish habitat by shading and cooling the water. The buffer zone provides protective cover for birds, mammals and other wildlife that feed, breed and rear their young near the water.
Man-made features such as retaining walls disturb the growth of natural vegetation, both in the shallow water and water's edge. They also cause waves to stir up sediments that are harmful to fish habitat.
What are some common waterfront landscaping problems and solutions?
Native plants and landscapes have many benefits for the environment and surrounding communities. By planting native plants on your property (especially along the shoreline) you are providing:
Vegetation within the riparian zone (closest to the water's edge) must be water tolerant and have a deep root system to stabilize soils and reduce erosion.
Trees found along the shoreline include:
Shrubs found along the shoreline include:
Prune trees for views rather than removing them, and allow Mother Nature to establish natural plant colonies.
Check your local yellow pages for a complete list of garden centres and nurseries that carry native plant species.
There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, which are designed to kill insects, weeds, and diseases respectively. Both the federal and provincial governments regulate pesticides. Before a pesticide product may be sold or used in Ontario, it must be classified.
Prevention is an easy step that saves you time in the long run and only requires a little initial planning.
When maintaining your property, only remove dead or diseased portions of trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Hand picking weeds is an effective, environmentally friendly way of managing plant pests.
Mow no more than 1/3 of the grass blade and leave clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil.
Natural pest control products can be found at local nurseries or hardware stores.
A trap can also be very effective. You just need to attract the pest to a container from which they can't escape.
Healthy soil contains organic matter in various stages of decomposition. High fungi, bacteria and other microscopic life are signs of a good soil. They break down organic matter into carbon, nitrogen and other elements, which are then taken up by plant roots for food. The more organic matter in your soil, the better.
Mulches are materials placed on top of the soil and are effective in reducing weed and insect pests. Mulches can include:
Beneficial insects are a great addition to your property, including:
These are available at various supply houses and cannot be used in combination with a pesticide.